a ruby ring in the context of ruby vs garnet color
May 21, 2020

Ruby vs Garnet Color – How to Spot the Difference?

If you are confused with ruby vs garnet color and wondering how to differentiate the two, you have come to the right place. In this article, I will share what you need to know about the differences in ruby and garnet colors. Even if you are planning to buy a ruby gemstone or a jewelry online, I will share some tips for you to be sure which gemstone you are buying.

Both ruby and garnet are gemstones but with a significant difference in their values. Ruby is one of the four most precious stones in the world along with diamond, sapphires and emerald. Even though garnet is also a gemstone, it is a semiprecious gemstone with a significantly low value compared to Ruby. Since the most common color of garnet is red, it is important to know how to spot the difference of ruby and garnet.

What Is The Color of Ruby?

All the gemstones which belongs to the corundum family of gemstones are categorized as sapphires, except for ruby. The red variety of corundum is called ruby. Therefore, unlike other gemstone variations, there are no several colors of ruby. Red is the only color for ruby, with several tones.

image 1 : The Carmen Lucia Ruby 23.10cts

What Is The Color of Garnet?

Even though the most common color of garnet is red, there are other colors such as orange and green in the garnet family. But if you can notice the difference between red garnet and ruby, you don’t have to worry about other colors of garnet, as long as your concern is differentiating the two.

image 2 : Natural Pigeon Blood Red Russian Garnet – 5.25 carats

Differences of Ruby vs Garnet Color


Out of these two gemstones, ruby is more “Red” than garnet. When you keep the two stones side by side or compare two pictures and ask yourself, “which stone color is closer to pure red?” Ruby will be the stone you will pick. Red garnet has a pale red vs the strong and intense red of a ruby. For garnet, it is more like red is mixed with black or brown. (An important point to remember here is that there are some garnets which has s better red than some rubies. Therefore, the above test will not give the correct result all the time). There are pinkish red rubies as well. But the confusion between ruby and garnet is caused only by reddish rubies.

If you see some orange in one of these stone, it is most probably a garnet.

Another point of confusion will be garnets which have a slightly purplish red. (The main red tones of garnet are purple red and deep red). But since some rubies can also contain a bit of blue, it is possible to see rubies with a slight purplish tone.

Therefore, let’s discuss other ways to confirm the difference between ruby vs garnet colors.

Color Spectrum

A good way of differentiating ruby and garnet is through the light spectrum of the two stones.

Hold the stone to a bright light source and turn it around slowly. At one point, you will notice the stone creates the rainbow effect. If green and yellow colors are present in this rainbow, then it is likely that the stone is a garnet. This is because rubies, as a result of its chemical composition, absorbs green and yellow colors. Therefore, these two colors will be absent in the rainbow created by ruby. (This phenomenon is explained in the crystal field theory)

Here is a video which shows rubies of different colors

Here is a video by GIA which shows different red garnets

What Should You Do If You Are Buying A Ruby Online?

Buying gemstones or gemstone jewelry online is very common these days. Therefore, it is important to make sure that what you are buying is a genuine product and not a lab created gemstone.

For garnets, almost all the garnets available in the market today are natural garnets. It is a gemstone which is found in abundance and there is no real need or a value in creating synthetic garnets. But in case you are going to buy a bigger and expensive garnet, then it is better that you ask for a certificate proving the authenticity of the gemstone.

If you are buying a ruby or a ruby gemstone jewelry, I highly recommend you to request for a certificate. This might not be practical if the jewelry consists of many small rubies. But, for a ruby gemstone or a jewelry with expensive rubies, getting a certificate is certainly possible. (If you are buying from a very reputed seller such as jamesallen, bluenile or leibish, you can be sure that you are buying an authentic ruby. But if you are buying from a not so reputed seller, request for the certificate, always.)

Even if you have purchased several times from the same seller, unless it is not a well-established and reputed entity, you should definitely get the certificate. The big jewelry stores will also provide you with the certificate upon your request).

Make sure that the certificate has been issued by a reputed entity. Details of the certificate issuing entity is always given in the certificate and you can always google and see whether that entity is trustworthy. Ask the seller to send a picture of the certificate and check the credentials of the issuing entity, before doing the payment.

Do Some Research

If you are buying from a physical store, getting the certificate is a must when buying a ruby or a ruby jewelry.

Rubies come in a range of different red tones and those have different price tags. You will have to pay attention to what quality of ruby that you actually going to buy. A little effort to do a market research will help you to get an idea about different rubies and how the price varies.

(Rubies are also valued using the 4 c’s framework and you can learn the basics of 4 c’s from this article)

Final Thoughts

The objective of this article was to give a basic understanding to the differences between ruby vs garnet colors. Since there is a huge difference in prices of these two gemstones, it is important that you know how to spot the difference.

I also shared some tips to follow when you are going to purchase rubies as sometimes it is hard to pick the color difference between ruby and garnet for an untrained eye.

I hope this article was useful and you managed to learn something new.

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